“The poet’s business is not to save the soul of man but to make it worth saving.” James Elroy Flecker 1884-1915

Undated photograph of Flecker

“O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet
English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.” To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence

Flecker is often said to have been influenced by the Parnassians about whom Wikipedia comments:-

The Parnassians were influenced by Théophile Gautier and his doctrine of “art for art’s sake”. As a reaction to the less disciplined types of romantic poetry, and what they considered the excessive sentimentality and undue social and political activism of Romantic works, the Parnassians strove for exact and faultless workmanship, selecting exotic and classical subjects which they treated with rigidity of form and emotional detachment. Elements of this detachment were derived from the philosophical work of Arthur Schopenhauer.

These poets were French and were published in an anthology that was first issued during 1866, then again during 1869 and 1876, including poems by Charles Leconte de Lisle, Théodore de Banville, Sully Prudhomme, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, François Coppée and José María de Heredia. The general style was influenced by the author Théophile Gautier as well as the philosophical work of Arthur Schopenhauer.

The Ballad Of Camden Town

I walked with Maisie long years back
The streets of Camden Town,
I splendid in my suit of black,
And she divine in brown.
Hers was a proud and noble face,
A secret heart, and eyes
Like water in a lonely place
Beneath unclouded skies.
A bed, a chest, a faded mat,
And broken chairs a few,
Were all we had to grace our flat
In Hazel Avenue.
But I could walk to Hampstead Heath,
And crown her head with daisies,
And watch the streaming world beneath,
And men with other Maisies.
When I was ill and she was pale
And empty stood our store,
She left the latchkey on its nail,
And saw me nevermore.
Perhaps she cast herself away
Lest both of us should drown:
Perhaps she feared to die, as they
Who die in Camden Town.
What came of her? The bitter nights
Destroy the rose and lily,
And souls are lost among the lights
Of painted Piccadilly.
What came of her? The river flows
So deep and wide and stilly,
And waits to catch the fallen rose
And clasp the broken lily.
I dream she dwells in London still
And breathes the evening air,
And often walk to Primrose Hill,
And hope to meet her there.
Once more together we will live,
For I will find her yet:
I have so little to forgive;
So much, I can’t forget.

Ballad of the Londoner


Evening falls on the smoky walls,
And the railings drip with rain,
And I will cross the old river
To see my girl again.
The great and solemn-gliding tram,
Love’s still-mysterious car,
Has many a light of gold and white,
And a single dark red star.

I know a garden in a street
Which no one ever knew;
I know a rose beyond the Thames,
Where flowers are pale and few.

A first attempt at translating into German

Ballade des Londoners

Die Glättung fällt auf die rauchigen Wände,
und das Geländer tropfen mit Regen,
und ich ueberquere den alten Fluss
Um mein Maedchen wiederzusehen..
Die grosse, ernstgleitende Strassenbahn,
Der ruhige geheimnisvolle Wagen der Liebe
Hat  viel  Licht des Goldes und weiß
und einen einzelnen dunkelroten Stern.

Ich kenne einen Garten in einer Straße
Den niemand je kannte überhaupt wussten;
Ich kenne eine Rose jenseits der Themse,
Wo Blumen bleich und wenige sind..

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